When you first start to design a website it begins as little more than an idea – and normally a very vague idea at that.
Before you have put anything onto paper or started coding often the only thing you will know is that you want to build a website and the rest is then required to grow out of that.
It’s at these early stages when your website will first begin to take shape, and the decisions you make early on are very important for deciding the course that your website eventually takes and how it finally turns out.
Here we will look at what to do next once you’ve decided you want a website and how to start planning some concrete details.
Decide on the Purpose
The first and most important thing to do before you go any further is to decide on the purpose of your website. This is crucial because all other decisions made regarding your site should serve the main purpose it has.
In other words you need to think whether your site exists to generate revenue from advertising, whether it is a glorified advertisement for a product or service, or whether you have built it for fun.
Decide Who is Going to Build it
Next you need to decide whether this is a site you want to build yourself or whether you are going to get someone else to build it for you like a professional web design service. This point is important because it tells you what your limitations are.
If it’s you building the site then you will only be able to build the site using the skills you personally have. On the other hand if you get a web design company to build the site then they will have teams to handle things like designing the layout, editing images and coding so the sky is the limit.
How do You Provide Value
Whatever the purpose of your site, if you are going to get people to visit it and to comeback somewhat regularly then you are going to need to somehow provide value. In other words you need to offer your visitors something whether it’s entertainment or text.
Once you know what that is you will know what you need to build the site around.
Look for Inspiration
From here you now need to start to know what you want the feel of your site to be like and it’s from here that the more specific elements of the design are born. Decide on the message of your site and what you want people to think when they see it, and then look around the web for inspiration and color schemes/fonts you like.
Note though that you don’t only have to look to other websites for your inspiration – equally you can find inspiration from things like interior design in showhomes or even the color schemes in films and computer games – it’s clear how many sites were inspired by Minority Report for example.
Next you need to start thinking about the navigation and whether you want your menu down the left or along the top. This is the point though however where you should start to step back and let your web design company take over if you are using one – because they are more familiar with how the best website navigation should be designed and this is the sort of thing they can probably handle for you without too much input.
Photo credit: Protospace